An Identity Crisis Observed

The plane was, as usual, crowded.  An early morning direct flight to Chicago, people stood single file waiting to take their seats.  Putting my bag in the overhead bin, the man in the aisle seat on my row stood to allow me to squeeze past him as I made my way to the window.  Engaged in a conversation with an attractive flight attendant, he barely noticed me.


“What was the name of your band again?” she asked.  “__________,” he said proudly. (Note to Reader: Think prominent rock and roll band of the 70s.)   Not wanting to disappoint, her face contorted as she thought hard.  After a moment, however, she could only conclude that she had never heard of him or his group.

“No, I am sorry, but I’m not familiar with them.”   The aging rock and roller was dejected, his long gray ponytail flowed over his now sagging shoulders.  “Have you ever heard the song ‘__________’?” (Note to Reader: Think prominent head-banger song of the 70s.)

“Uh, no.”  The stewardess bit her lip and grimaced.  “Sorry,” she replied, shrugging her shoulders with unease, knowing that her response had wounded a fragile ego.

“I guess you’re too young,” he said, looking confused.  Seeing an opportunity to relieve his misery, I offered some encouragement.

“I know both the song and the band,” I said.   He visibly straightened, gave a smug smile, and looked at me as though I were a man of true taste and culture.

Restored, he turned to the beautiful attendant once again to gauge her reaction.  There was something akin to pleading in his eyes; a keen desire that she acknowledge that he was, in fact, someone important.  She appeared to remain unconvinced, but wanting to disengage, she raised her eyebrows as if impressed.  I almost added more, but it was all too evident that it was not my attention that he wanted and, besides, I didn’t like his band or his song.  After a moment, she moved on, but his smile never dimmed.  He had been confirmed in his status and that was enough.

As I reflected on the incident, I couldn’t help but think that this man, whose band had once filled concert halls and who, in his day, would be fawned over by stewardesses in first class rather than economy, was something of a caricature of many people I knew—even many Christians.   Rather than deriving our self worth from the God in whose image we were made, we instead turn to our work, relationships, and anything else that gives us—albeit fleetingly—satisfaction.  The consequences are devastating.  Let’s consider them.

First, we are likely to conform to that thing or entity that gives us our sense of value.  Will we be conformed to the world or transformed by God?  If the former, our worth comes from a corrupt, temporal source.  If the latter, it originates with a pure and eternal source.  Second, we will, like the aging rocker, find that our value is determined by an ever-changing market.  Our stock is up one day, and down the next.  The old adage “what have you done for me lately?” is not without meaning in the so-called “real world.”   Third, we will judge others by the same shallow standard.  If they lack the qualities that we deem to be important—good looks, brains, charm, an ability to please us—they are found wanting in our scales.
A song currently popular says,

To the waiter at the restaurant
You’re just another tip
To the guy at the ice cream shop
You’re just another dip
When you can’t get reservations
‘Cause you don’t have the clout
Or you didn’t get an invitation
‘Cause somebody left you out

Oh, how true this is!  But let us remember that a proper worldview begins, not with the world at all, but with our Creator.  The Apostle Paul tells us that God chose us before the foundation of the world,

“In love He predestined us for adoption…” (Ephesians 1: 4, 5)  Amazing love!  It is a love that the world cannot match.  Every believer can have a confidence he has value beyond anything the world can give because the Almighty God loves him.  And that is better than any concert hall of screaming fans.

So next time you’re snubbed and your fans don’t seem to know who you are, just remember that they aren’t the ones who define you.

© Copyright 2006 Larry A. Taunton